ATO could make miners’ tax details public

Mining companies may have their tax details made public by the Australian Tax Office, if a Treasury proposal released on Wednesday goes through.

The proposal is part of the federal government’s effort to expose multinational companies with complex tax minimisation structures and force them to pay their ‘fair share’ of tax.

“Transparency in taxation would go a long way to improving not only government’s understanding of which taxpayers are pulling their weight but give the community the capacity to engage in an informed debate,” assistant treasurer David Bradbury told The Australian Financial Review.

The ATO would release data of companies with a mining or petroleum tax liability or those with $100 million plus annual income.

Other proposals include publishing cumulative collections for each federal tax and increasing information sharing between government agencies.

PwC partner Michael Bersten, a member of a specialist grouping assisting Treasury said there should be no opposition if data released is the type that is already published by listed companies. He believes this would encourage companies to publish more details.

“Where the concerns lie is in the publication of material that may be open to being severely misunderstood,” Bersten said.

The Treasury proposal aims to find out why it collected only $126 million in mining tax, well short of the estimated $2 billion the government forecast.

It also seeks to establish transparency in solving the issue of multinationals paying little tax.

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